Distracted drivers: People believe a third of accidents caused by mobile phone use

  • 32 per cent of accidents blamed on mobile phone use
  • 2.7 million people each year are involved in car accidents
  • Stricter penalties expected to come into force next year which means drivers face six points on their licence if caught using a phone behind the wheel

New research from Direct Line Car Insurance1 reveals that people blame a third of car accidents (32 per cent) on mobile use, showing the risk of driving while distracted by technology.

Over the last three years more than eight million adults say they have been in a car accident (16 per cent), which equates to 2.7 million each year on average.

Of those who have been in an accident, more than half (53 per cent) say this was caused by the driver of the car being distracted, mainly by their phone or a passenger on their phone (32 per cent). One in eight (12 per cent) have been distracted because they were using an app on their phone while driving.

Stricter penalties are expected to come into force next year resulting in drivers being awarded six points on their licence and a £200 fine if caught using a mobile phone while behind the wheel2. Despite this, almost 14 million adults (27 per cent) in the UK think it is acceptable to check their phone while stationary, such as in a queue of traffic or when waiting at a red light. One in six (17 per cent) think it is acceptable but only if the phone is ringing or they have received a message notification.

Given that so many accidents are caused by mobile distraction, it is unsurprising that motorists admit they keep their phones close to them while they are driving. The most popular places where drivers keep their phone are in their bag (29 per cent), in their side pocket (20 per cent) and in the centre console (12 per cent).

Gus Park, commercial director of motor at Direct Line commented: “Any form of distraction that takes the driver’s eyes away from the road is risking their safety and that of their passengers and other road users. The proposed stricter penalties for using a mobile illegally behind the wheel are a step in the right direction, but the fact that 14 million people think it’s fine to use a mobile behind the wheel illegally suggests that fines and points alone may not be enough. Cultural change needs to happen alongside this. The Government’s Think! campaigns have done a great job of effecting this change in relation to drink‐driving and we are calling for them to re‐focus these campaigns on mobile distraction as a starting point to kick off the societal pressure for people to do the right thing”.

Notes to editor

1Research conducted by Opinium amongst 2,000 adults in England and Wales between 28 October and 1 November 2016

2https://www.gov.uk/using-mobile-phones-when-driving-the-law

For further information please contact:

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on‐line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com

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